The Cheerleaders by Kara Thomas

Ok this one wasn’t on my TBR either but what can I say, I’m a mood reader… And my mood this weak was leaning towards thrillers.

Themes: YA, murder mystery, thriller, contemporary fiction

The synopsis

Five years ago, Sunnybrook’s cheerleaders died. Two in a car accident, another two were murdered by the neighbour and the final one committed suicide. After that, the cheer squad was disbanded and Sunnybrook is now known as the town without cheerleaders.

Five years later the town wants to remerber its lost ones but Monica just wants to forget. Only, she starts to doubt the official version of the event when she discovers letters adressed to her stepdad and the lost long mobile phone of her dead sister. Despite what they say, some people know more about what happened than what they say and Monica will discover what the town is hidding from her.

The review

As I told you above, I was in the mood for a good murder mystery and this one was a real page-turner. Each time I had a break I couldn’t resist reading a bit more to goe on with the plot and finally know what happened to this 5 girls. The book is made as a mirror between the events of five years ago and the present time. Even some event happen in both time with different actors, building up the claustrophobic tension you feel by traveling in this quiet little town. I was surprised by the strong athmosphere of the book given the light descriptions of the setting which could be any little American town.

We get to know the characters thanks to the narrators (Monica and her sister) but also by what Monica learns or hear about them from the town’s people. At first, I was a bit lost among all the victims and other characters but then I was helped by the fact their stories and personnalities are quickly introduced. I usually don’t think much about the victims in thrillers and I’m more interested by the cultprit and the motivation behind the crime. But here since we have chapters narrated by Jen I felt so sad for her and was even more involved in the resolution of the mystery surrounding her death and that of her cheerleaders friends.

This time, I guessed that my favourite character had a link with the events (not telling the name to avoid spoilers) but didn’t saw the ending coming 🙂 Some suspects were a bit too easy to eliminate and I think that the thing happening to Monica in the first chapters didn’t bring much to plot (not to say nothing). It just created more tension in her home but I think the author could have skipped it since Monica’s mother’s struggle with grief was enough to build the her difficult familial situation. The last reproach I have is that the mystey concerning the neighbour is unsolved. If he was just here as the presumed murderer Kara Thomas shouldn’t have build a part of the plot around him to let us wanting more at the end. However, the rest of the plot was great with a lot of dead ends and a very logical conclusion.

As I said, the ending surprised me very much and shows how we can be confronted to situations and choices that can change our life forever. It’s a shame that the notion of justice presented in the end isn’t discussed further in the rest of the book but I get that it’s not an essay…

In brief: a great mystery surprisingly dealing with a lot of different social issues. Monica is not my favourite protagonist but the other characters are complexed enough to be interesting. A good YA mystery to pass time during the weekend.

My rating: 4/5

Warnings: abortion, suicide, murder, alcohol/drugs, domestic abuse, statutory rape

3 thoughts on “The Cheerleaders by Kara Thomas”

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